May 20, 2014
We had a productive session. Minnesota was granted Super Bowl LII in large part due to the recognition of the great work they have done with the stadium. We had three great presentations today. Each of the communities did a terrific job.
We also talked about expanded playoffs. We will not have expanded playoffs for the 2014 season. The primary reasons we looked at were competitive issues, ticket sale issues and issues with respect to the advertising market. The general view is that we should proceed with the Thursday Night focus that we have this year. We are adding additional inventory into the marketplace and this makes the most sense for us for the 2014 season.
We also had an update on the Draft. We reported on the successful Draft we just completed and put a working group together to talk about the kinds of changes we want to engage in for the Draft for 2015. They will come back and report to the membership by the October meeting.
We had many other reports but one of significance was our workplace issues and the training we are doing. Robert Gulliver, our head of HR, reported on the work that is being done in this area and the training that will happen at all clubs over the next 60 days.
On the impact the NFL has on the AT&T and DirecTV merger negotiations:
We are still in an exclusive-negotiating period with DirecTV. They have been a terrific partner. We are aware of the transaction. It is something where we will continue our negotiations, which have been very productive to date. We hope to bring them to a successful conclusion soon.
On what needs to be explored for ownership to move forward with expanded playoffs:
I do believe it will be approved for the 2015 season. We want to see how it will impact in a positive way from a competitive standpoint. Will it create more excitement, more races towards the end? Who will ultimately qualify for the playoffs? We also want to absorb the additional inventory into the marketplace from an advertising standpoint. So far we see positive signs in the marketplace. That is how we are going to approach it.
On whether the NFL Draft will continue to be held in May or if it will be earlier or later in the offseason:
We are looking at everything. We think that the Draft has a great deal of more potential to grow in popularity. We do not believe the date affected us in a negative way at all this year. We have to balance a number of issues, including football-related issues. We think there is still a lot of growth opportunity here. The date and location are probably the primary issues for us to decide. Radio City is going to let us know by the end of the month what flexibility they have. That will be a big help and we are discussing the possibilities with other cities.
On whether there have been any developments on discipline for Jim Irsay:
There have been no charges so until we more information and more facts, we will let it play out a little longer.
On whether New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has discussed keeping the draft in New York:
I have not discussed it with Mayor de Blasio.
On what made Minnesota the best choice to host the Super Bowl:
All three bids were outstanding. They each did a terrific job of presenting the plusses of their communities. I think a distinguishing factor, after hearing some discussion afterwards, was the stadium project and the effort they had to bring that stadium to completion. The plans that they have for it and the commitment that community has demonstrated is a positive influence on several owners.
On whether there will be a time when player discipline resulting from performance-enhancing drugs will be made on a case-by-case basis instead of by specifics in the league’s policies:
The first principle of our joint drug program with the Players Association is that you are responsible for what is in your body. There are several avenues for you to contact people in advance to determine whether you should or should not take a certain drug. We have a process set up. Ironically, the Players Association asked me to step in as the hearing officer [in the Robert Mathis case] and I decided not to do that. I didn’t see any reason that this was different than any of the other drug cases that we’ve had. I do not hear those.
We have had since 2011, 104 drug-related cases. All have been heard by my designee. Had we implemented the HGH program and the other elements of our drug program from the 2011 agreement, 104 of those players would have actually gone to third-party arbitration. 21 of those would have been referred into the drug program rather than being suspended. Two other players would have faced a two-game suspension rather than a four-game suspension. The point here is that we have a very strong drug policy. We have already negotiated and proved that drug program and we should get on with it, including the HGH program. Players would benefit from that, the league would benefit from that, and the message we would be sending everybody in sports would be a very positive thing.
On whether the league has a comment about a lawsuit filed against the NFL regarding players’ use of painkillers:
I was only made aware of it just briefly. I do not believe any of our attorneys have had the opportunity to look at it. As you know, I have been in meetings all day.
On whether there have been additional talks with the NFLPA about HGH testing:
No, unfortunately not. It is time to implement this. It is good for the players. It is good for the league. I have mentioned several benefits that would be implemented now that would affect a large number of players. If they really believe that third-party arbitration is important, there are 104 cases that have been heard by my designee that could be heard by a third-party arbitrator. I mentioned just in the recent weeks that they asked me to get involved in a case, ironically. It is time to get started. Let’s get it going.
On the Saints owner Tom Benson falling during his presentation and if it affected the Super Bowl vote:
No, our focus is on Tom Benson. It was immediately after he spoke to the ownership. As he was turning he just lost his balance and fell. Fortunately, he appeared to be fine, but as a precautionary step they have taken him to the hospital. Our thoughts are with Tom Benson and his family right now. The initial reaction looks very positive. I went in the back and spoke to him before he left.
On the dialogue with the union and playoff expansion:
This is something I’ve had numerous conversations with DeMaurice [Smith] about. I just spoke with him about it two weeks ago. I think there are a lot of benefits to the players, but that’s something they’ll have to evaluate. They are our partners and I’ve said on many occasions before that we are going to have a dialogue with all of our partners to make sure it can be done the right way. I do believe there are some real benefits to the players. The revenue – obviously – will increase and they will share in that and get the largest percentage of that, in fact.
On DeMaurice Smith discussing Louisiana workers compensation and playoff expansion:
I just spoke to him two weeks ago and he didn’t even raise that issue when I spoke to him so. We’ll have to have those conversations I guess.
On New Orleans losing the in final Super Bowl bid for the first time:
New Orleans is a great community and they did a terrific job in the last Super Bowl. So did Indianapolis. I do think – I’ve said this before – in many circumstances it’s much more competitive to host a Super Bowl. The stadiums – the new stadiums – are obviously a big factor. They drive and influence owner’s perspective. The size of this event and the impact it has on these communities is creating even more interest. So it’s much more competitive. But New Orleans is a great city and I believe they will have another Super Bowl.
On Arthur Blank and the Falcons bidding for the Super Bowl in the future and the importance of a new stadium:
I think that’s another great example of it. There are great communities that are building – or have built – new stadiums that are going to make their bids even more attractive. I think Atlanta is a great example of that. I know that’s something Arthur [Blank] and the Flacons want for this community. I know this community wants it and they are a great community. That stadium is going to serve them well going forward.
On what he’s learned from the NBA’s handling of Donald Sterling:
I think they’ve made the right decisions. I salute Adam Silver for being decisive. He made the right statement and he’s doing the right things.
On the challenges of a cold weather city hosting the Super Bowl:
You look at weather patterns around the country and there were some ice storms and snow storms that could have impacted us. We just have to be prepared for that. Minneapolis embraced that, just like New York/New Jersey embraced it in their bid. We recognize that we will be playing in a cold-weather city. But we also recognize we are in a city that is going to take advantage of that and is prepared for that.
On if it is less attractive for fans when game is in cold weather city:
No. People make their choice. If you want to play golf that may not be your first choice. You may play golf and then come to Minneapolis. People come to the Super Bowl for a variety of reasons. They want to be part of something special. I think that’s going to be the great thing that is going to happen in Minneapolis. It’s going to be very special and they have great plans. They are prepared for it and we look forward to it.
On the Buffalo Bills ownership situation and Jerry Jones’ comments regarding a move to Canada:
I didn’t see those comments so I can’t react to them. We are all trying to regionalize and grow the popularity of our local teams. That’s been going on in Buffalo and into the southern Ontario region for several years and I expect that will continue. They want to grow the fan base and I think that is something that is important for the long-term future of that team. As far as the timing is concerned, we did have a brief report from Jeff Littmann today. He told us they are engaging not only a bank but also a council. They are proceeding with the process. They will do it in a deliberate fashion and when they come to a conclusion they will let us know. Obviously, they will stay in contact with us and in full cooperation with my office. They recognize the importance of league rules and they will do it the right way. We are confident that will be the case.
On if he believes a new stadium in Buffalo is a long-term solution for that market:
I still feel that way. I believe a stadium is important to the franchise long term to continue to be successful in western New York. But it is a long-term issue. We have a short-term issue. They are making improvements to the stadium and I think those are positive in the short term. But we all know this lease is 10 years and we have to look well beyond that for this franchise to continue to be successful in western New York.
On specifics of viability of a new stadium the small market:
It’s the same in any market. You need to have the revenue streams and you need to have the kind of facility that people want to come to. It’s [a stadium] going to give the franchise the long-term stability to be successful. That’s why you see it happening in Atlanta and you see it happening in Minneapolis. These are important elements in keeping teams successful.
# # #